SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The murder trial for a Texas County man accused of killing a 17-year-old in September 2017 has wrapped up in a Greene County courtroom on Thursday, August 6th.
21-year-old Andrew Vrba, is accused of stabbing and killing Joseph Steinfeld in 2017.
This was the fourth day of Vrba’s bench trial. If found guilty of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The day began with a few motions presented by the defense, asking the judge to spare Vrba the possibility of life without parole by lessening the charge from first-degree murder to second-degree murder.
Judge Calvin Holden did not rule on the motions but said he would take the information into account when making his decision.
Then came closing arguments from the side of the State, claiming Vrba has never told the entire story of what happened the day of the murder or the real reasoning for it.
Attorney Kevin Zoellner argues Vrba deliberated about the murder before he acted, and has since lied and changed his story several times.
Closing arguments for the defense claim Vrba acted out of anger or fear without contemplating the murder beforehand.
Vrba’s public defender Tom Jacquinot asks the judge to take into a count Vrba’s mental health issues, learning disabilities, and his mental state at the time.
The defense claims they have proved there is reasonable doubt as to whether Vrba was sure of his intentions before stabbing Steinfeld.
Judge Holden did got give the court a date or timeline of when he might have a verdict. Depending on that verdict, Judge Holden could set another date for Vrba’s sentencing.
KOLR 10 News spoke with the victim’s sister, Ashleigh Boswell, following the trial.
She says it’s been devastating for her family to never feel like they have closure for Steinfeld’s murder.
“We’ve been wanting to get answers on why he has done it, what’s going on, are we finally going to get answers, and it seems like, through these two days, we haven’t got our answer on why.”
She says she hopes Vrba is sentenced to life without parole.
“He deserves to rot in prison. He deserves it. He has done something that if someone can have the (sense) to murder someone, they deserve the punishment that he deserves to rot in hell and deserves to rot in prison.”Boswell says her little brother was a kind, sweet person, who’s life was taken away too soon.
“They keep saying he gets nightmares, well I hope he keeps having those nightmares because he took away not just my brother, but he took away my best friend.”
Watch for more updates from Bailey Strohl tonight at KOLR 10 News at 5 and 6.